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Retina Scanning Security Becoming A Reality

by Sean P. Aune | August 19, 2010August 19, 2010 8:00 am PDT

Movies, television shows and literature have used the idea of retina scanning for years as a way to quickly set the scene that the story takes place in some dystopian future where the citizenry have been stripped of their rights.  It’s usually a bleak story where privacy has become a dream of the past, and people trudge through their miserable lives, always knowing the government is watching over them.

This will soon be the case in Leon, Mexico.

According to a story from Fast Company, biometrics R&D firm Global Rainmakers Inc. (GRI) have come up with retina scanners that are sensitive that they can read your retinas even while you run through them.  Apparently a deal has been struck with the local authorities in Leon, Mexico to be the pilot program for this technology.  At first, only criminals will be scanned with the idea that when they pass through things like airport security (the retina scanner are just in front of the metal detectors in the image below), the on-site security will know who to watch immediately.

airport retina scanners

According to the article, phase one of the plan involves installing the scanners at places such as the jail and government buildings. Phase two would include a roll out to businesses so that they could detect known shoplifters when they enter the store, and you could possibly shop without having to use a credit card. Eventually they see this being used by marketers to tailor ads you see to your specific tastes, being scanned to start your car, enter your home and so on.

Jeff Carter, CDO of Global Rainmakers, explained some of the benefits of the project as, “There’s a lot of convenience to this–you’ll have nothing to carry except your eyes.”  He went on to add, “And it’s interesting: When you get masses of people opting-in, opting out does not help. Opting out actually puts more of a flag on you than just being part of the system. We believe everyone will opt-in.”

Is your skin crawling yet?  I know mine sure is.  Essentially you will be tracked every moment of your life, no matter where you go.  They try to say how this will even be good far bars as you won’t even have to present ID to prove you’re legal to drink.  Oh, okay, let me hand over any remote semblance of privacy I still had in this world just so I can drink without taking the five seconds it takes to get out my ID.  Seems like a fair trade to me!

Has the world lost its mind?  How can anyone defend this as a sensible project?  Ben Franklin once wrote, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”  GRI is talking about safety, convenience and, hey, marketers can know absolutely everything about you!  People are being asked to trade their liberty and privacy for the ability to get a more directed ad for perfume?  Never mind the fact they are already trying to brow beat you into the idea that, “well, yes you can opt out, but do you want to draw attention to yourself?”  This whole thing reeks, and, sorry, but let it raise all the flags on me it wants, but if this ever comes to the United States (which, believe me, this will be showing up as an idea more places very quickly), I will most definitely be opting out.

What say you?  Are you ready to sell your liberty and privacy for some ads?

[via The Inquisitor]


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Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...


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